Magnolia made sure that it will be a Christmas to remember not only for itself and its faithful but for two of its all-time greats in attendance.
The Hotshots blew out Ginebra by 23, 117-94, in the 2021-22 PBA Governors’ Cup chapter of the Manila Clasico Saturday night to give Marc Pingris and PJ Simon another reason to be proud on the same night their jerseys were retired.
“We’re properly motivated because it’s Christmas Day also,” said head coach Chito Victolero post-game.
“And, plus the fact that PJ and Ping, kumbaga sila ‘yung bisita namin eh. Binibigay din namin sa kanila ‘yung larong ‘to.”
The two icons saw their jerseys immortalized by the franchise during halftime of the rivalry match, in front of over 4,800 fans at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
With that, PIngris and Simon have become the latest to have their jerseys retired, next to four-time MVP and current Hotshots manager Alvin Patrimonio, the ‘Defense Minister’ Jerry Codiñera, and Rey Evangelista.
Victolero and his wards were there in the ceremonies as well, as they watched from the bench their former leaders honored in a way they so deserve.
The champion bench tactician said that he’s proud to have been a part of Pingris’ and Simon’s careers even if it lasted for only a few years.
“I think nakasama ko si Ping and PJ for three, four years siguro. I’m very proud dahil naging part ako ng career nila,” said Victolero, who took over the team’s coaching reins in 2016 and won a title with the two a couple of years later.
“Although medyo limited lang ‘yung pinag-samahan namin, but you know, makikita mo talaga sa kanila ‘yung commitment nila sa team, ‘yung kanilang attitude, ‘yung kanilang work ethic, sobrang ganda,” he added.
Grateful as well is Victolero to Pingris and Simon, saying that they were of great help in establishing his system and culture when he first came in.
“Noong nag-take over ako, sobrang thankful ako kay Ping tsaka kay PJ, because they accepted the system, together (with) the leadership. Mahihirapan ako kung siguro, kung wala ‘yung dalawa,” he said.
“Not that retired na sila kaya ko sinasabi ‘to, pero noon pa man sinabi ko na yun thankful ako lalo na kay Ping,” added the 46-year-old, who worked with Pingris in the MBA-backed Philippine national team in 2001.
Victolero said that the two are truly deserving to have their numbers 15 and 8 retired for their impact on Philippine basketball.
“Kaya talagang ‘yung dalawa deserve nila talaga ‘tong, kung ano man ‘yung mga binibigay ng PBA sa kanila. Kasi talagang ang laking parte ng nagawa nila sa Philippine basketball. Not only in the PBA, but in Philippine basketball.”
The second game of each playdate is also livestreamed on SMART Sports.